This weeks blog comes from our fabulous overseas blogger Tanakorn who has been putting us all to shame by racing once more on the other side of the globe and below has shared his race experience and course details of the Melbourne Challenge 70.3. Enjoy. Check out his site for more of his triathlon tips and youtube channel.
Pre race thoughts
I approached this race with a mixed of feeling. Firstly, after my last race at Ironman 70.3 Sydney in November 2017. I still really do not know about my fitness level in long distance triathlon . Secondly, after Buriram marathon which is in February it was only 8-10 weeks up to this race. So this event was like a test race for me building up to Gunsan Long Distance Triathlon Asian Championship at South Korea in May. I tried not to put pressure to myself by not setting any goal time for this race and see how I could perform in my own fitness conditions.
Weather forecast from my phone told me that it would be 11-25c on April 22nd, 2018. It comes with good and bad news. The good news is all the athletes including me get a chance to race in cool condition. The bad news is I have never experienced swimming in this cold water before but I think it should be fine.
Swim and T1
“It’s too cold to swim”
was my first thought when I did the warm up before swim start. First 5 -10 minutes was very difficult as my both hands and legs were numb and I was struggling to move through the water. Once I was in the sea for around 10 minutes, it was better and I could start get into my own rhythm. My T1 was fine but taking off wetsuit is still a bit of difficult tasks for me.
Bike and T2
I rolled out of T1 calmly and start to get my shoes on, adjusted myself to the most comfortable position. First lap and second lap went quite well. I was able to follow the plan my coach gave it for me. Unfortunately during the end of second lap or third lap the front wheel brake pad was moved and touch to front wheel rim and I did not know about this. It was strange as I think I was tired and exhausted so I could not maintain my power. My instinct told me that something had gone wrong mechanically. Finally I found out when I checked my bike after the race that front brake and front wheel rim were completely jammed and I rode in this condition for at least 15-20 km. Story of my tri-life.
“ Total race time is 3:45 hours”
I was quite hopeless and start to think negatively when I looked at my watch on my first step out of T2. At Sydney 70.3 race I almost crawled into the finish line in the time of 2:20 hours for half marathon. However, I believed in my training and I felt like I could produce a good run today. The first 5 km went pretty good as I gradually increased the pace from 6:30 to 5:40 min/km. My coach suggested that if I want to get my personal best I should stay at this pace and speed for as long as possible. First lap went well and I still felt great. I started to grab more sugar from Coca-Cola and strictly follow my coach nutrition plan. It was surprisingly that I did not have any major cramp on the run at this race. During the second lap, my body has started to send me some signs of fatigue and exhaustion. Weather and temperature still cool and nice with cool breeze from the sea. It’s around 12:15 am and the sun had started to perform her duty. I got 3 km to go with around 19-20 minutes left for a PB. I ran my best on tiring legs and finally…
Post race thoughts
My official finish time is 5:49:31 hours which is now my personal best on half distance. It was quite a fight at this race as I had a slow swim and not so good bike. The run was probably my best run in half distance and I was super proud of my effort.
Since 2015, Challenge Melbourne has always changed race date and last year’s weather condition was far from ideal. I was prepared for the bad conditions but once the race day came the weather was perfect and it was one of the greatest day for me.
Swim start was set next to St. Kilda pier. Athletes had to swim out and turn left and swim parallel to St. Kilda beach then made a u-turn and swim beneath St. Kilda pier. The swim course highlight was at St. Kilda pier which allows family members and supporters to watch their favourite one. Race day water conditions was very cold (8-10c) but calm and no major current. Air temperature was around 10-12c with soft wind and mostly cloudy. Swim buoys were arranged nicely and can be seen clearly every 200m.
Bike course was three loops 90 km along coastal road from St.Kilda to Brighton to Black Rock. The course was 100% road closure with some slip lanes for locals to leave and return to their residences. Elevation gain are around 300m with some strong wind from the sea on the way back to St. Kilda. One water station with bike mechanic were provided at the end of every lap. Road surface is in good conditions with some occasional pot holes and speed bumps. Race marshals were rarely seen and drafting can be noticed sometimes.
All the run course was arranged in the public path and shared with bicycle lane along St. Kilda to 200m from South Elwood boat ramp. There is no significant hill or ascent during the run. Water and food stations were provide at each 1.5 – 2 km. Run course road surface were mixed between gravels, wooden path, grass path, cement and asphalt. Only concern area from athlete’s view is at St. Kilda beach. Because of thick crowd and speed of moving of athletes due to the very short distance from finish line, there might have a chance of accidents between pedestrians and competitors.
Finish line, Expo area and Transition zone
Finish line was set and shared with race expo and transition zone at Catani Garden on St. Kilda beach with friendly atmosphere for athletes and families. Transition tour by Tri-Alliance were provided nice and clear to all competitors. Expo area is small but full of wide range of products from sports nutrition to race gear. Transition zone was very well organised with the same way of swim-in and run-out. Bike-in and bike-out was also designated in the same way. The flow of transition was clearly marked and easy to understand. Also, transition’s security on race day was good and allowed for athlete only.
If you look for a near major city, a bit of rolling bike course, flat run course , friendly atmosphere and a great chance for personal best half distance event in Australia. Challenge Melbourne is the race you should try.